As a family caregiver, your top priority is the health and happiness of your loved one.
While you should feel proud of the comfort and care you provide, it’s possible you’re too overwhelmed with responsibilities to recognize the signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout.
Caregivers who are burnt out may experience feelings of physical, mental or emotional exhaustion, making it difficult to care for themselves—let alone a loved one. Burnout may be accompanied by a change in attitude, from caring and compassionate to unconcerned.
If you or someone you know is caring for an aging loved one, here are five steps to prevent caregiver burnout.
1. Accept that you may need help while caring for a loved one.
If you’re feeling run down, let others help. A weekly or monthly check-in with close family members and friends can help you divvy up responsibilities—like picking up a prescription from the pharmacy or driving your loved one to an appointment.
There will also come a time when you need to vent. Find someone you can trust to talk about your feelings and frustrations. Having someone you can lean on during trying times makes everything a little easier.
2. Take advantage of in-home health care services.
If finances allow for it, look into services like in-home health care. This form of care is designed to provide assistance to seniors in a setting that’s familiar to them, such as your or their home.
A professional caregiver or certified nursing assistance will help you and your loved one with daily activities, such as cooking and cleaning, as well as bathing, dressing and grooming.
Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, in-home healthcare provides a temporary break for caregivers to tend to other responsibilities.
3. Join a supportive community of caregivers.
While your loved one relies on you for comfort and care, caregivers need both mental and emotional support, too.
If your loved one’s health is quickly declining, you may experience feelings of hopelessness or helplessness. Having a supportive community can help you make sense of your situation.
Joining a caregiver support group is a great way to connect with others who truly understand what you’re going through. Groups that focus on a specific illness or disease are extremely helpful, as members can exchange practical information on caregiver challenges and offer possible coping strategies and solutions.
By sharing your successes and failures, you’ll feel better knowing you’re not alone in your caregiving journey.
4. Set realistic goals for yourself and your loved one.
No matter what kind of caregiver support you provide, it’s important to set realistic goals for yourself and your loved one.
While you cannot control the good days from the bad, be mindful of what you can control by setting objectives and identifying obstacles. Some things to consider include:
What do you hope to achieve?
Is this a realistic goal given the time, effort and resources available?
What challenges and concerns are you facing?
Asking yourself these questions can help you remain motivated while caring for an aging loved one, preventing burnout in the process.
>>>Related Resource:Develop a senior care plan to ensure you’re prepared for any medical obstacle that comes your way.
5. Find a creative outlet.
For some caregivers, tapping into a creative outlet can help reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and stress.
Whether it’s practicing yoga or writing poetry, find time to tap into your creative side. This will give you an outlet to express your thoughts and feelings in a constructive way.
Some activities to consider may include:
Listening to music.
Playing an instrument.
Use this time to focus on your personal health and happiness. You owe it to yourself and your loved one to recharge your batteries every now and then.
Get Access to Even More Family Caregiver Resources
Caregiving is a 24/7 job. Despite the fulfillment it brings, it can take a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health. That’s why we created our Caregiver Guide to help you navigate each stage of your journey with ease. When you download, you'll receive information to help you provide the highest quality of care for a loved one.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2018, and has been updated for 2020.
Considers it an honor as a Certified Celebrant to listen to life stories, and then design and conduct meaningful tributes. Cathy also trains celebrants nationally, equipping them to share those legacies in ways that comfort and enlighten. Honorably serving Busch families since 2004.